Series on MarkNews flash: Jesus was also a victim of prejudice.

This comes across clearly in Mark 6. He had already been rejected by the religious authorities for doing things that only God could do, like forgiving sins (a valid accusation) and for performing miracles under the influence of the Devil (a false accusation). But now things get a little more personal.

Jesus is at home in Nazareth in what would be his last trip there before He would be killed in Jerusalem. He is about half way through His earthly ministry, a little over a year before He would shed His blood on a brutal cross on Golgotha.

As Jesus takes His turn teaching in the synagogue, he suffers scorn from the folks who were closest to him in his home town. They are offended that as a simple local boy from Nazareth, he is now dispensing wisdom as a bona fide Rabbi.

In other words, He didn’t have the academic credentials. He didn’t learn to interpret the intricacies of the rabbinical laws under the tutelage of an authorized Rabbi, like Paul did. That would be like becoming the President of a University without ever having finished High School. “That’s a no, no,” you would say.

They also take issue with his trade. Sophisticated Greeks were notorious for disparaging people who did manual labor. Jews in general were more affirming to those who worked with their hands. Many Pharisees, in fact, were craftsmen, as was Paul, a tent maker. But people like that, as respected as they might have been in their profession, were never expected to get up in front of others and teach the Torah.

Wisdom was acquired by those who had the opportunity of leisure. You needed time to ponder the intricacies of God’s laws and manual labor didn’t contribute to that. Jesus is labeled here by a Greek word that points to someone who did “construction work.” This could refer to masonry, carpentry and the like. Jesus was a manual laborer, how could he change clothes and pretend to be a teacher of God’s Word. That would be like the opposite of Superman in the telephone booth.

Jesus was also looked down because of his pedestrian family. They were saying something similar to “Isn’t this Mary’s boy from down the street?” The reference to his brothers and sisters adds insult to injury. It was like saying, “None of them pretend to be something they are not, only this presumptions little fellow.” You can only imagine what kind of reputation Jesus’ brothers and sisters had in the town. Suffice it to say that at some point they thought he was mentally deranged and not one of them apparently believed in him until after his resurrection.

Prejudice robs us from the opportunity to see the person for who s/he really is. In this case, the people were walking amidst deity and failed to recognize it. They were the losers in that Jesus did hardly any miracles then because of their unbelief. More importantly, they missed the opportunity to re-make their souls.

Prejudice also blinds us to the reality of who we really are. By putting Jesus “in his place” as a mere local boy with Messianic fantasies, the people failed to see that they were not superior Jesus or even His family. Had they paid attention to Jesus, they would see that by contrast they were sinners of the worse kind. They needed His divine intervention but they never saw the need for it.

Many Christians today experience prejudice by simply being Christians. They are not alone. Jesus preceded them in the via crucis of prejudice. My prayer is that people today will not act like the people in Jesus hometown, toward Him or any other human being created in the image of God. I also pray that God will silence the voices and stop the hands of those who hate His people.

Pastor Ivanildo C. Trindade

Lead Pastor, Grace Church, Lititz, PA